New Garda agency has concerns over force's training
The Irish Times reports a new agency appointed by the Government to advise on the development of the Garda has expressed serious concern for the safety of Gardaí tackling siege situations and a growing gun culture. The agency, the new Garda Inspectorate, has made several proposals, arising from the killing of John Carty at Abbeylara in 2000.
The Irish Times goes on to claim some of the inspectorate's findings, while praising progress made by the Garda since 2000, may prove embarrassing for Mr McDowell. Many of its conclusions and observations appear to support complaints from the Garda representative bodies that the safety of their members is being compromised daily because of resourcing shortfalls in vital areas.
The inspectorate underlines the urgent need for basic equipment such as a new radio system, ballistics vests and firing ranges. It also highlights a lack of training opportunities for the Emergency Response Unit as it no longer has a tactical training centre.
The inspectorate has proposed rank and file Gardaí should be better trained to handle dangerous situations involving firearms, pointing out that these unarmed members are often first to arrive at a scene.
It has recommended these members all be supplied with bullet-proof and stab-vests as well as pepper spray. They should also be trained in the use of firearms and less-than-lethal weapons.
It also wants a panel formed of senior gardaí around the country who have advance scene-commander training in a bid to avoid a repeat of some of the command errors made at Abbeylara. Similar panels of mental health experts and trained negotiators, who could assist at sieges, have also been recommended.